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June 22, 2013

A Word of Advice: You can survive tough homework nights

The Daily Star

---- — Finals/Regents week: the near-death of the motivated high school student. The good grades are desired, the fire is there, but the energy is most likely not, due to the high amounts of studying, homework and hyperventilation experienced during this ever-wearing time period. Fortunately, there are methods of survival for those of us that have 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. school days. 

The first and most practical thing to do in this situation is to reflect on your time-management skills, which honestly aren’t that great even for me. 

Starting your business at 10 p.m. isn’t the best of habits, though I myself understand the desire to kick back a bit when arriving home from school. A good compromise that I can personally attest to from my far-apart sparks of personal responsibility is about 5 p.m., varying a bit depending on when your household dinner is. Having a nice, comfy cozy flat surface to work on, like a desk with a chair, really, really makes a difference. Sitting on something like a floor for hours doing homework is extremely uncomfortable and really slows down your work process from all of the rolling around and repositioning you’ll be doing to be in a workable state of comfort.   

Occasionally the worst happens, and despite all of your time management, your teachers have managed to concoct an evil conspiracy to create a cocktail of assignments so large late-night working is inevitable. This is OK, as there are several anti-sleep aids readily available to most. First off are your staple, conventional things. Your coffee, your energy drinks, your soda. Any of these will work, and are quite tasty treats to go with your work to boot. However, some of us may not have caffeine privilege. 

All hope is not lost. I’ve found taking a potent hot sauce and consuming it liberally can help you stay awake, though if too overwhelming can be painful and distracting from work. Some more radical ideas can include rubbing ice cubes on your bare flesh and taking either hot or cold showers, though nothing too hot or too cold. Jumping jacks and other aerobic exercises can also keep blood flowing, though overdoing it will just tire you out further. 

An important thing to keep in mind when planning your night of work is that you’ll probably do work slower as you get more tired as the night goes on, so it’s probably a good idea to get the big things out of the way first, so you can get all sleepy when you start doing the small stuff.   

After getting minimal sleep, you’re going to have to deal with fighting off the sleepies in school. This can be even more troublesome, given your limited resources within the school. I typically pack a few things when I come to school sleepy. I bring a small, tightly sealed container of coffee, though many schools may not allow that, and a small spray bottle. When I start to get tired, I take the spray bottle, and spray my face with it. This gives an invigorating rush of water to your face and eyes and also has the dual purpose of cooling you off from the hot weather often found here this time of year. Others will appreciate your spray bottle as well, if they ask to borrow it for a spray.   

While important to manage time and such, it’s often not realized by many adults that sometimes the workload of a studious teenager in high school goes beyond that of which would allow us reasonable time to sleep. Especially at the end of the year, this is a big problem. Though it is a big problem indeed, people should keep in mind that hard work always pays off. Studying, homework, all go toward helping us hit homers at the big game, the Regents, which, like it or not, return to haunt us when we go to apply for college and such. So don’t get discouraged, sip some coffee, cover yourself in ice, and spray on!

Austin Czechowski is a sophomore at Cobleskill-Richmondville High School. Would you like A Word of Advice from him? Send him an email at, or send him a letter to “Teen Talk: A Word of Advice,” C/O The Daily Star, P.O. Box 250, Oneonta, NY 13820. ‘Teen Talk’ columns can be found at